My friends, the labels we give things are nothing more than mental handles by which we attempt to apprehend them. A label is a bundle of characteristics, nothing more. It feeds the engines of quantification and qualification that we call our rational mind. The name we give a thing blinds us to it. A tree is a generic, abstract thing, but the tree you truly perceive is never generic or abstract. You are blind until you look beyond the label in your eye.
How then can we attempt to apprehend divinity in rational thought? What sort of mental handles will allow our engines of quantification to count the infinite and eternal? Which qualifications can define the edges of the boundless?
The Beloved has many names, and each name is nothing more than a mental avatar. If I speak to you of Jesus Christ, you will misunderstand me and I will misunderstand myself. We have already built mental boxes with that label. If we were to talk about Buddha, we would both shift over to different boxes. Other buildings in our cities of mind are called Moses, Krishna, and Muhammad.
And these labels point to others: God, heaven, enlightenment, nirvana, Adonai, Allah. States and qualities and quantities, places and events, personalities and preferences: so many bounded concepts.
The Beloved, by any other name, is reduced. The reduction lives in the ears of those who hear and the mouths of those who speak. Christianity’s Jesus cannot be reconciled with the Islamic or Judaic Jesus, but none of those are the Jesus who is with us now. The Buddha of the Pure Land is not the Buddha of Japanese Zen, yet neither is the Buddha who is with us now. What has been written about God, Adonai, and Allah is human history, but the stillness and the silence of this moment do not smell of history books. This air is pure and clean, and the Beloved is here now.
Whatever label you affix to a higher spiritual state, it is here now. Whatever cultural history you prefer, the Divine is here now. However rational you may attempt to be, you will never find the moon by examining the finger that points to it. There are treasures in the holy books and religious traditions and there are more treasures on the modern spirituality bookshelves and in the contemporary temples and monasteries. But the holy altar and the Beloved are not in those places. These are always with you.
Do not let concepts be more important than the Beloved.